MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT Short of rocket launchers, Scalia scorns gun control
In a little noted speech reported in the conservative Washington Examiner, the leading Supreme Court judge who regularly legislates from the bench, Antonin Scalia, signaled that he is ready to further rule in favor of more guns in more hands, with even fewer restrictions than now. Examiner columnist Paul Bedard wrote of an early February Scalia interview with NPR legal correspondent Nina Totenberg:
Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, decrying America's demonization of guns, is predicting that the parade of new gun control laws, cheered on by President Obama, will hit the Supreme Court soon, possibly settling for ever the types of weapons that can be owned.
Scalia, whose legacy decision in the 2008 case of District of Columbia vs. Heller ended the ban on handguns in Washington, D.C., suggested that the Constitution allows limits on what Americans can own, but the only example he offered was a shoulder-launched rocket that would bring down jets.
Like his good buddy, Dick Cheney, Scalia likes to hunt birds, although â€“ to be fair â€“ we don't know of any accounts where, like Cheney, Antonin has filled a friend's face full of buck shot instead of a pheasant. But we now know he draws the line at shooting corralled birds with a rocket launcher.
USA Today reported that Scalia teased Totenberg before an audience at the Smithsonian Associates:
Asked if the Second Amendment's right to bear arms is as unequivocal as the First Amendment's right to free speech, Scalia said, "We're going to find out, aren't we?" -- an indication he expects the court to hear a gun rights case in the near future.
"There are doubtless limits (on gun rights), but what they are, we will see," Scalia said.
But as with his remarks this week contemptuously dismissing Congress's repeated renewal of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) â€“ and his claim that the VRA is nothing more than "racial entitlement" â€“ Scalia is once again signaling his role as the radical right wing SCOTUS enforcer. Scalia is a cross-breed between the Federalist Society and the Tea Party â€“ sort of a brown shirt with a Harvard legal degree -- in this case on assault weapons and big guns, Scalia apparently regards anything that can shoot a bullet as Constitutional, only drawing the line at rocket launchers that can bring down aircraft. How extreme is that? It makes the NRA look like moderates.
The immoral limits of Scalia's ideological fervor appear to have few limits. More than once, BuzzFlash at Truthout wrote commentaries on Scalia's astounding assertion: "Scalia Ruled That the Constitution Doesn't Prohibit Executing an Innocent Man in Troy Davis Case." As we observed in one of our columns:
Beyond the emotional punch in the gut of Troy Davis' execution - and the echoing cheers of a GOP debate audience for Rick Perry killing so many people - it is worth remembering the role of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in the Davis affair.
Because it was during an appeal to the Supreme Court in 2009 on behalf of Davis that Scalia - and BuzzFlash is not making this up - actually wrote a dissenting opinion that there was nothing in the Constitution that prevented a state from executing an innocent man (or woman).
How does BuzzFlash at Truthout know this?
Because we did a commentary back then on Scalia's jaw-dropping constitutional assertion when the decision was rendered. (The Supreme Court ordered a Georgia court to allow Davis to present new evidence.)
In that 2009 commentary, we quoted from Scalia's dissent:
This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is "actually" innocent. (Bold inserted by BuzzFlash at Truthout on Scalia's legal opinion in the court document.) Quite to the contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged "actual innocence" is constitutionally cognizable.
If the Constitution doesn't protect us from being executed even if we are innocent, then, Houston, we have a fundamental problem of human rights in America.
After reporting on Scalia for more than 12 years, it has become clearer and clearer that he is a caricature of a legal scholar and more like one of those Tea Party protestors with a poster threatening: "No Socialized Medicine in America. Don't Tread on Me. The Government Better Not Touch My Medicare."
Scalia is a dangerous man. He should be in a loony bin for self-styled intellectuals who scorn all brains but their own ("I think, therefore it is the law" is his motto), where he would not be such an ongoing threat to the nation.